In world of drab greys, blacks and all manner of entirely forgettable metallics in between, VW reds always stand out. But did you know the first ‘proper’ red didn’t appear on VW’s colour palette until April 1956? Indeed, the vibrant Coral Red (L 351) must have represented a breath of fresh air in the still relatively austere mid-1950s. Red, of course, has been a popular choice ever since – although you’ll struggle to match the diversity of red hues available during the flambouyant 1970s in VW’s current range of cars…

For those red car fans out there, here’s a list of some of the options that appeared in Volkswagen’s past car catalogues…

Coral Red

Introduced in 1956, the first red listed by VW was available for two years. Like all reds, Coral (L 351) had a tendency to fade, and when it did it became even more charismatic as you can see with the lovely patina example above.

Ruby Red

L 258, Inca Red, broke cover in 1957 and ran for just a year before being replaced by the popular, retina blasting and incredibly long-lived Ruby Red (L 456) which was available from 1961 through to 1967 (below).

During the same period (1958-’59) customers could also have opted for the slightly darker Garnet Red (L 358).

India Red

A marginally brighter version of Coral, India Red below (L 451) made its first appearance in 1959. Sadly, it only lasted for a year and was available at the same time as the fractionally lighter Paprika Red (L 452) which ran from August 1959 to July 1960.

Poppy Red

The bright and youthful Poppy Red (L 54) was only available on the Type 151 and 152 (left- and right-hand drive models of the Beetle Cabriolet). A real shame, as it’s a lovely rich red and looks great on the Beetle. It was available from 1966 to 1970.

Royal Red

The far more subdued regally named Royal Red (L 30) made its debut in 1968 and was available until 1970. Clementine (L 20 D) looks like a red on colour charts but in fact was a vibrant orange.

Kasan Red

Iberian Red (L 31 F) emerged in 1970, alongside the rather individualistic Colorado Red metallic – code L 97 D. Kasan Red (L 30 B) – below – was available in 1971.

In 1973, Volkswagen customers could also choose Bahia Red (L 30 E), a colour shared, it seems, by Porsche, but it seems to be quite a rare colour.

Senegal Red

The mid-‘70s, along with orange, represented something of a heyday for red paint lovers. In 1974 alone, there was a choice of four different reds; Bahia, Senegal (L 31 A), Ibiza (L 31 M), Malaga (L 30 C) and Phoenix (L 32 K).

Mars Red

The stunning Mars Red – below – (L 31 B) first appeared in 1977 and was carried over to VW’s range of water-cooled cars – including the Mk1 Golf. It was joined in 1979 by Indiana Red (LA3V). Daytona Red (L458), Monarch Red (L459), Cherry Red (LA3A), metallic Surinam Red (LA3Y) and Gambia Red (LA3B) followed.

Tornado Red

Other reds during the late ‘70s/‘80s included Classic Red (LA3G), Red Spice (LA3W), Colorado Red Pearl (LB3Y), Hot Chilli Red (LC3L), plain Red (LG3L), Flash Red (LP3G) and of course, the wonderfully rich Tornado Red (LY3D) which we think you’ll agree still looks great on the Mk2 Golf as below.

We’ve no doubt missed a few along the way, so if your colour’s not here – let us know. As we said in the intro, red oxidises more than virtually any colour – so bear this in mind if you’re trying to get an accurate colour match. Be mindful of the fact, also, that some colours – notably Mars Red – seemed to be available in various different shades, so make sure you get the right one!

Ian

The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage

Thanks to www.thesamba.com for some of the information and pictures.

Comments

    1. A decent colour restorer, or polish should bring the red back up a treat Paul. I have used this trick to apply stripes and chequers to my faded VWs before, creating a pattern with the faded and polished paint finish. Good luck! Andy

  1. I don’t remember Clementine as a “vibrant Orange”, more as a sort of faded-looking light red with a slight tendency to the brownish. Not an ugly colour, mind you — quite the opposite –, but not orange either.

    Then again, the Bugs I remember in that colour were quite old and faded too.

    1. Yes, come to think of it, Clementine wasn’t that vibrant. More of a burnt orange. I remember it appearing on 1500 Beetles at the time…

    2. Clementine is both orange and bright! The formula has some red but it’s an eye-popping orange! Brownish??! Clearly you just haven’t seen a proper Clementine paint job! Ever seen a ’73 TLE Fastback?? Most orange thing ever – in fact the fruit was named orange after the car!

  2. In Australia, local assembly started sometime in the late 50s after being available from ’54. There was a colour called manly tan available in those ovals.
    I purchased a new beetle in late ’63 that was ruby red. A couple of times my friends, who also bought the same colour, would drive in convoy in four ruby red beetles. Great times those.

  3. Clementine:
    Definitely a darker orange but also a rich shade.
    Appeared on 1970 and 1971 Model years in the UK and was I suppose replaced by the more common Brilliant Orange in 1972 Model year.
    We had a 1970 basic 1200 in this shade.

    1. Hi Rob

      Great to hear from you and yes, definitely a richer, more mature colour than the more vivid oranges that appeared later. I remember looking at a few Clementine 1500 Beetles from the 1970 era but ended up with Pastel White instead!

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